There's not a word yet, for old friends who just met,
Part heaven, part space, or have I found my place?
You can just visit, but I plan to stay,
I'm going to go back there someday.
Gonzo, Muppet Movie, "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday"
Auburn and Texas A&M are old friends who've just met. They don't have a long history together. Before the Aggies joined the SEC, the schools met only twice on the football field.
Despite the separation, many Auburn fans and Aggie fans have a long-shared affinity. Both are land-grant institutions that have been traditionally viewed as the Cow College and "little brothers" in their respective states. Both teams have live animal mascots that bear at best an abstract connection to the teams' nicknames. Both have long and storied football traditions replete with championships, Heismans and mediocrity. Recently the teams have enjoyed great success with brilliant offensive minds and explosive, polarizing quarterbacks. Both have large, rabid fan bases that are comprised mostly of alumni and others with direct connections to the schools.
Many Aggies have married into my extended Auburn Family. We expect to host a few at our tailgate Saturday. Growing up, I had friends whose parents attended grad school at Texas A&M and loved to play the record of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band, for my money one of the best bands in America:
Even their coach, Kevin Sumlin, feels like one of ours, coming up from Brewton.
So far the series hasn't disappointed.
Auburn upset the #7 Aggies in 2013, setting off an improbable run to the SEC title. Texas A&M repaid the favor in 2014, knocking off a #3 Auburn team that looked likely to make a run at the college football playoffs. In 2015, a struggling Auburn knocked off the ranked Aggies in Kyle field.
This is the first year both schools come into the game with seasons on the line. The winner has a chance to make a run at the teams at the top tier of the conference. The loser is likely out of the running.
The home team has never won in this series. The higher ranked team has never won. Something has to give.
The Aggies are the most-welcome addition to the SEC since the conference formed in the 1930s. I hope our newest old friends find Auburn and Auburn's fans to be welcoming and hospitable.
Except for that time between the opening kickoff and the final whistle when no quarter will be asked or given. I hope y'all hate every moment of that.